JUNE 29 2009 14:43h
We need to continue fighting corruption with very clear principles – no-one should be above the law, Croatia’s justice minister said.
ZAGREB, CROATIA – Croatian Justice Minister Ivan Simonovic said today at a round-table conference on occasion of the first anniversary of the implementation of the action plan and strategy on preventing corruption that fighting corruption got stronger, but also that citizens’ perception about corruption is high.
The minister said that the first results of the action plan are undisputable, enumerating some anti-corruption operations with as “Indeks”, “Gruntovnica” and “Maestro”.
All this is promising, but the fact is that it is the people’s perception that there is a lot of corruption in the country, Simonovic said.
He thinks that in the fight against corruption should be started from where it is good, such as the law and the USKOK (Office for the Prevention of Corruption and Organised Crime) verticals, in which alongside a specialised prosecution, formed were also national police offices and courts for trying USKOK cases.
“We need to carry out (the anti-corruption programme) with very clear principles – nobody should be above the law – the minister said.
He believes that citizens have lost faith because it was obvious that there is still corruption and because it is very much reported about in the media.
But the minister claims there is less corruption in Croatia than in some European countries, including some members of the EU. But this only means that we need to continue fighting corruption successfully because there is too much corruption, he said.
The chairman of the national council for the implementation of the strategy of fighting corruption, Zeljko Jovanovic, said that measures from the Action Plan had been implemented, but that results, such as confidence in the system and an increase of court convictions, are still lacking.
New action plan needed for next year
Jovanovic believes that a new action plan has to be drawn up for next year in which the accent would be placed on political will and that the reform of the judiciary had to be completed, as well as to show on concrete examples that the anti-corruption vertical is functioning to restore citizens’ trust.
President of Transparency International Croatia, Zorislav Antun Petrovic, said that there is increasing transparency in bodies of public authority and less and less loopholes in the law. “The legislative framework is being boosted and there is still a lot of space for progress in fighting corruption”, Petrovic said.
According to the results, the perception of citizens about corruption in Croatia in 2009, according to Petrovic, the justice system gave the lowest grade (4.4), while the general grade in all areas was (4.1).
The round-table conference was organised by the Justice Ministry, the government’s Office for Associations, GONG and Transparency International Croatia.